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What You Need To Do To Become An Elite Retirement Plan Provider.
Whether it was working for others or working for charitable organizations, it seems that there is a culture out there that seems to forget why these businesses and organizations exist. Culture is hard to change because culture and tone are set by the top. It’s amazing what people will forget and it’s amazing what plan providers forget in dealing with their business, with their clients, and other plan providers.
Speak on a level that they understand
I have been an ERISA attorney for 22 years now and it’s gone by pretty quickly. I have worked for a few ERISA attorneys and have seen quite a few out there giving speeches around here and there.

Probably my greatest talent for helping my own practice and the worst talent in working in a law firm setting has been the ability to connect with my audience. My audience is going to be plan sponsors, third party administrators (TPAs), and financial advisors. My articles, newsletters, and speaking engagements meet the attention span and interest of my audience. When I was working at law firms, that wasn’t going to work because most law firm partners have a tendency to speak above the level of their clients and other attorneys and that’s because they feel the need to justify their fees and their experience by speaking legalese and jargon.

I bill on a flat fee, I have low overhead, people hire me because the fees are reasonable, I don’t need to justify my fees. I’ve seen a lot in this industry (featured in two Kindle books) and some of it was pretty bizarre, so I don’t need to justify my experience. As a retirement plan provider, don’t confuse your clients with jargon. Spit it out, tell your clients what you do for them and why your service is better than the one being offered across the street.

Throwing jargon and technical speak isn’t going to justify your fees, service, or experience, it’s only going to confuse your clients. Tell them what you do in simple terms because no matter what, they aren’t going to do your job. Communication in any business is key and the lack of communication often dooms any relationship. Speaking above the level of your clients isn’t communication because there is going to very little comprehension.

No one is denying that the work you do isn’t important, but if you can’t communicate what you do to your client, often they will find another provider that will.

A big threat is student debt
I always look at the bigger picture and I’m concerned about issues that are 5-10 years down the pike. This is what you do when you have 20+ plus years left before retirement. I’ve always been a forward thinker, which often makes me rub badly against people who live in the past.

One of the greatest threats to the retirement plan business is student debt. 44 million Americans now owe an estimated $1.67 trillion in student debt. I remember talking to the law school dean at my alma mater and she told me that with room and board, all in tuition was $75,000 a year and that was 4 years ago. Imagine trying to service a $225,000 debt (not even including anything owed for college). When you have that much debt, how can you save for retirement?

I’m not suggesting that the Federal government forgive all that debt (including the $20,000 or so that I still owe), but I’m suggesting that unless something is done, people are going to save less for retirement. The problem is that with less people saving, the industry suffers as it’s too dependent on plan assets.

Let them remember you for the right reasons
As you know, Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD) was booked for That 401(k) National Virtual Conference. As you also may know, Congressman Raskin was the Associate Dean at American University Washington College of Law when I graduated there in 1997. Law school was tough and it wasn’t fun. In what I thought was a sea of dishonesty about our school and how they portrayed the job market, Raskin was as honest as people can come. Congressman Raskin was that friend that I needed to survive what was a very unpleasant experience, So even when I may disagree with him 80% of the time (probably 99% when I was in law school), he will always have my support because he is a friend for life.

When I look at my career, I tried to make sure never to hurt anyone in one fashion or the other. My motto is simple: “don’t be the a$$hole.” In many of my writings, I focus on those that decided to play that part. When choosing to be nice or to be cruel, always choose to be nice. There is nothing wrong with being demanding or being stern, but cruelness is just a whole different level. Hurting people for no reason or showing people up for the sake of showing them up isn’t the right way to act. I will never understand those in my career that just were cruel for the sake of being cruel. Not going to name names because they are in my Kindle books (still on sale), but with such a small industry, it’s better to be known as being nice than being cruel.

Some of the hubbub over PEPs is nonsense
In terms of the 401(k) plan business, I think the hype over pooled employer plans (PEP) will be the most over hype since the release of Crystal Pepsi.

I don’t believe PEPs will eliminate the need for single-employer plans because I don’t think the hype will ever come close to the interest in them by plan sponsors. The idea behind PEPs is cost savings and delegation of fiduciary liability. Only the latter will materialize.

Principal (in its PEP announcement) says 38% of defined contribution plan sponsors say they might consider joining a PEP or a multiple employer plan (MEP) in the next two years. I don’t believe 38% of plan sponsors know what a PEP is.

Sign Up For That 401(k) National Virtual Conference

While the inaugural That 401(k) National Conference this past March at Disney World was a lot of fun, it was the last major 401(k) industry event before the COVID-19 turned our world upside down.

Whether the pandemic will abate by 2021 or not, the fact is that business travel is going to be curtailed by many plan providers for the foreseeable future. Thanks to the success of That 401(k) Virtual Conference, it is a no brainer to host an online-only edition of That 401(k) National Virtual Conference Thursday-Friday, January 21-22, 2021.

This virtual event will have it all: great presentations to help grow your 401(k) business and a couple of celebrity guests.

Guest for Day One is New York Knick Legend Walt Frazier.
Guest for Day Two is New York Mets Legend Dwight Gooden.

Former Ted Cruz For President National Spokesman and MNBC Commentator Ron Nehring speaks on Day One on what a Biden White House looks like.
The Retireholi(k)s appear on Day Two.

Attending the event for two days will start with a fee of $33.33. There will be a VIP admission for anyone wanting autographs from our celebrity guests.

To sign up for the event or get more information, click here.

An agenda for the event can be found here.

For information on sponsoring the event, click here.